ECommerce & Customer Experience. How Can AI Technology Help Online Stores?

AI tools improve e-commerce customer experience

Creating a Great Ecommerce Experience for Customers

Ecommerce experience refers to customers’ perception of a brand based on their interactions across the internet.

An excellent customer experience differentiates a business from the competitors. It impacts a company’s reputation, customer retention and customer loyalty.

Every element of the customer journey across multiple touchpoints is crucial when providing a superior customer experience.

Digital technology allows an ecommerce site to connect with customers through different touchpoints, thereby creating efficient management of customer service.

The use of digital devices in various steps of the purchasing process, as well as consumer recommendations and communications through social media are all examples of much broader and vigorous impacts.

Introducing AI to customer‑to‑brand interaction is a game‑changer that can improve e‑commerce performance and competitiveness on the market.

Conversational AI solutions such as chatbots are becoming an integral part of the digitalization of e‑commerce jobs and businesses.

This is because they enable better customer engagement and provide more personalized services across platforms.

With increasing consumer expectations, investing in the right AI technology seems like a smart e‑commerce strategy.

A businesswoman and ecommerce specialist in a gray suit posing for a picture.

We asked Mie Bilberg, business influencer, trusted advisor, consultant, and keynote speaker, to share her insights into e-commerce, customer experience, and the technology that’s allowing businesses to adapt to ever‑changing buyers’ demands.

Bilberg specializes in digital transformation, B2C and B2B e-commerce, eMarketplaces, online development, and sales and marketing. She has 10+ years of leadership experience in commercial and innovations teams.

Bilberg was a local lead of digital transformation for the Danish market at Carlsberg.

Price is No Longer the Only Incentive –­ A Customer’s Ecommerce Experience is Essential

In recent years, ecommerce has drastically grown. Consumers increasingly choose the ease and convenience of online shopping.

Competitive price used to be a deciding factor when consumers were making their purchases.

However, a fair price is not the be-all and end-all to winning customers anymore. A customer’s ecommerce experience has a substantial impact on buyer decisions.

Mie Bilberg observes three main changes within ecommerce.

Ecommerce is the biggest trend for B2B

During the last five years, a shift in B2B trade has been observed. Ecommerce is one of the biggest trends in B2B sales.

Most businesses are looking into the optimization of resources, effective processes, and growth.

“Ecommerce innovation used to come from B2C, but now B2B will be a leading star,” Bilberg stated.

A customer’s ecommerce experience becomes more important than the price

“Price is no longer the incentive that makes people shop online.

Saving time and having an improved customer experience is the number one reason.

Studies show that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience,” Billberg continued.

Omnichannel is the new norm

Ecommerce has changed, [becoming] a part of any business with sales for either consumers or professionals.

“Offline stores are expanding to online, online are expanding to offline.

The new standard is to have an omnichannel strategy,” Billberg finished.

Infographic of an omnichannel shopping experience.
Online shopping is an omnichannel journey.

Consumers are Increasingly Demanding – The Reputation of an Ecommerce Site is Crucial

An ecommerce site can no longer get away with slow or lost delivery.

Likewise, a customer support department cannot get away with ignoring customer inquiries.

Online ratings and reviews are crucial for consumer security, and a bad experience can easily end up with a negative review online.

Mie Bilberg explained, “Today’s customers expect more because they know the value of their attention.

E-commerce transactions happen on customers’ conditions and involve minimal time.

“A customer’s ecommerce experience is therefore a factor of huge importance right now.”

AI technology can help with increasing consumer demand.

The right ecommerce technologies are out there“, added Bilberg, “but e-commerce businesses need to implement them in a way that will enhance customer experience.”

This can be done by introducing 24/7 customer service for online stores.

More and fast is a new standard.

Satisfied customers not only reward brands with repeat business, they also share their positive experience online and with friends and family.

In other words, an excellent online shopping experience results in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Brand´s online reputation
Favorable reviews foster customer trust and loyalty.

In order to paint a full picture of consumer expectations, we must look at what kind of inquiries an e-commerce site receives.

Round the clock assistance

First, customers expect round-the-clock assistance with the issues they encounter, from technical issues on the website to shipping.

These inquiries are commonly solved by the company’s customer support/customer service team.

If a company wants to scale without having to open an office in every time zone, a customer service chatbot is pretty much a no-brainer.

Guidance from an ecommerce site

Second – and this is a newer trend – customers increasingly expect ecommerce sites to offer advice and guidance when purchasing a product on their website.

Think of the complexities that any ecommerce business within the garment and clothing industry has to face.

What size shirt should the customer buy? Is the fit true to size, or does the brand recommend sizing up? Does a certain pair of trousers come in a different color?

Customer Experience as a New Way of E-commerce Marketing

As Mie Bilberg emphasizes, “Five years ago, a common sentence among marketeers was ‘if you do not exist online, you do not exist’.

“However, today we all exist online, whether we want it or not.

A company’s online reputation can make or break their business. A customer can rate their experience, and they can take a photo of a product and share it with others or tweet it.

Bilberg added, “Ecommerce might not have control over customer behavior, but what they can control is building the best online brand.

“Customer experience is a new way of marketing. A brand is defined by those who experience it.”

Meeting customer demands is crucial for a memorable ecommerce experience. This can be done with ecommerce technologies, and in turn leads to the success of an ecommerce site.

Customer Satisfaction for a Successful Ecommerce Site

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a key measure for any successful business. It is one of the most important indicators of purchase intentions and loyalty.

How you meet the expectations of your customers can not only make them stay but grant you recognition among your target group.

With a competitive e-commerce environment, customers can easily switch from one brand to another.

A customer waiting for ages to get a reply from a brand is not acceptable anymore.

The longer a customer has to wait for an answer, the lower the satisfaction score.

The more helpful and prompt an answer is, the higher the satisfaction score.

“Websites, web shops, and social media channels are critical touchpoints.

Technology can help in serving and providing [a] personalized experience through omnichannel,” said Bilberg.

E-commerce websites that don’t offer round-the-clock support risk:

  • losing the opportunity to convert visitors into sales
  • losing actual customers if they don’t get their issue resolved quickly.

These are important issues to consider in order to succeed in the many ecommerce jobs within the industry.

Use Ecommerce Technologies to Support Your Humans and Beat the Competition

E-commerce is a highly competitive space.

The Automation of processes with RPA (Robotic Process Automation) tools and AI chatbots can make a real difference in a company’s effort to stay ahead of the competition.

Mie Bilberg explained that, “many tasks can be handled by standardized rules, which is much more than what most people think.

“For example, 80% of the questions customer service receives every day can be automated.”

The listing of your products in your web catalogue, pricing, control and monetization of different customer journeys, and marketing campaigns can all be improved with the use of technology.

Infographic representing customers ecommerce experience and virtual shopping store.
AI tools provide a personalized user experience, which positively impacts buyers’ shopping decisions.

Imagine two competing ecommerce sites that sell similar products, at a similar price point, and ship to the same locations.

Furthermore, for the sake of argument let’s assume the products being sold are extremely high quality.

What are the determining factors that make a person choose to buy from one ecommerce site over another?

Brand

A consumer may well favor a company who have branding that appeals to them.

Alternatively, they may opt for a more established, well-known brand that they feel they can trust.

Referral

Friends, family, or influencers recommending the brand can prompt a customer to buy.

User experience on the ecommerce site

The customer’s journey improves with an easy-to-use interface. Clarity, lack of friction, and enough product information increase the likelihood of a purchase.

Customer experience

Customers that have the option to contact support at the moment of purchase are more likely to convert.

Illustration of a variety of different use cases of conversational commerce and chatbots
Conversational commerce & chatbots can impact a variety of different factors within ecommerce.

What factors can an ecommerce site control?

Surprisingly, probably all of the above.

Using the latest ecommerce technologies, businesses can create an excellent user and customer experience.

Creating a great ecommerce experience can only increase the chance of a customer referral.

Your employees cannot do this alone. Use technology to improve and scale your overall customer experience.

Ever heard the saying “Work smarter, not harder”? Technology enables humans to work smarter.

“Technology helps e-commerce constantly stay connected and on track with the customers,” said Mie Billberg.

Data gathered by AI tools is key to keeping up with ever-changing demands of buyers.

AI provides businesses with structured data on a daily basis, and we should take advantage of it.”​

Businesses need to use ecommerce technologies to know their customers better, which leads to more personalized and contextualized communication with buyers.

Data can help e-commerce sites to minimize surprises and navigate and act quickly.

Of course, data can be very valuable if we gather it from the whole customer journey and not only some parts of it”, added Mie Bilberg.

The Impact of Ecommerce Technologies on Customer Experience

Mie Bilberg was a local lead in digital transformation for the Danish market at Carlsberg.

She explained that adopting new technologies was a first step in this process.

“To achieve business objectives, learning how to use technology, and understanding the full potential of it is crucial.

However,” she added, “new technology disrupts old processes.

Re-definition and optimization of the processes are required. “

What can we learn from the process of digitalization of e-commerce?

Bilberg summarized that the process resulted in “better customer experience, less churn, more loyal customers, and higher average order per customer online versus offline.”

Illustrating the effectiveness of this approach, customers voted Carlsberg among the Top 5 of Best B2B Webshops in 2019 – Danish e‑commerce Award FDIH.

The same year, Carlsberg achieved their highest customer satisfaction score within the last ten years.

Furthermore, digitalization had a positive impact internally in the company.

The Online Sales Team was the team with the highest employee engagement score.

Conversational AI Chatbots for Ecommerce

Conversational AI chatbots are one of the tools that can give a competitive edge over other e-commerce businesses by providing a customer with a seamless ecommerce experience.

When the smart AI solution has access to a company’s CRM system or a database, it can easily provide personalized service.

From a customer perspective, chatbots are easy to interact with.

This is because AI chatbots are using NLU/NLP (natural-language understanding/processing) to recognize intent.

It means that they can respond in a human-like way and perform different tasks.

Other benefits of an ecommerce chatbot include:

  • facilitating real-time communication with customers
  • supporting customer service
  • answering customers’ queries on different platforms including social media
  • working as a shopping assistant
  • providing personalized product recommendations
  • collating customer data
  • collecting feedback
  • improving the on-site user experience

Conversational commerce is the next new standard for e‑commerce,”​ said Bilberg.

There is a huge variety of tasks and processes that can be dramatically improved and sped up with the adoption of AI.

The Growing Popularity of Chatbots for Ecommerce

AI technology continues to evolve and offer ever-better solutions for ecommerce.

Big businesses, as well as small ones, are discovering new ways of assisting their customers with chatbots and conversational AI.

Research can tell us a lot about the popularity of chatbots and how these AI tools are becoming conventional ecommerce solutions.

According to Business Insider, the chatbot market size is expected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.7%.

Research from SuperOffice suggests that 40% of consumers prefer self-service over human contact.

Repetitive questions can be easily answered by bots that use conversational interface to imitate human-to-human conversation.

Infographic of a man sitting on the desk and chatting with a chatbot assistant.
An ecommerce site can build a unique customer experience with a chatbot shopping assistant.

Studies have also shown that 47% of consumers are open to buying items using a chatbot.

Moreover, 57% are interested in getting information from chatbots when they visit a brand’s site.

Customers expect prompt responses to their inquiries, and it is not surprising that 64% of internet users say 24/7 availability is the best feature of chatbots.

If response time is too slow, the customer’s ecommerce experience can be negatively impacted.

Some businesses have multilingual customers. It might be costly to hire a number of representatives speaking different languages.

AI chatbots are a solution to this problem, as their language integrations allow them to communicate with customers all around the world.

Why is a multilingual chatbot good for ecommerce experience?

According to Common Sense Advisory Research, 74% of customers said they were more likely to make a second purchase if post-sales support was offered in their native language.

Finally, COVID-19 has shown how AI chatbots can be useful in e‑commerce.

Throughout the pandemic, the value of digital channels has increased, and the way people shop has changed. Digital trends have put ecommerce sites under huge pressure.

Businesses without proper technology have had significant difficulties in coping with the sudden spike in demand during the pandemic.

Online businesses are increasingly realizing that they need technology to create a great ecommerce experience and handle the switch toward online shopping.

As a result, there has been increased interest shown in AI chatbot technology.


Check out our Conversational Commerce ebook, packed with ideas and inspiration for streamlining communication and accelerating sales.


The article is based on the interview between Patrycja Hala Saçan and Mie Bilberg.

The article was written by Patrycja Hala Saçan.

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